News Story

Global Health Senior Conducts HIV Research in Tanzania

November 20, 2019 – Kaylan Coke (NHS’19) is a senior in the global health major at the School of Nursing & Health Studies. Currently, she is in Tanzania, where she is completing the Department of International Health’s semester-long research practicum abroad for seniors.

At Georgetown, she is also working toward a double minor in African American Studies in Georgetown College and Science, Technology and International Affairs, with a concentration in business, growth and development, in the School of Foreign Service. “Which means my studies touch three of four undergraduate schools at Georgetown,” she writes.

Question: What are you working on this semester?

Coke: I am currently on week 11 of my practicum abroad in Mwanza, Tanzania, and am working at the National Institute for Medical Research here. Most of my time is spent working on my research project. Led by my preceptor Dr. Mark Urassa, I am utilizing three versions of a survey in order to assess the impact of HIV infection on female fertility in rural Tanzania. Although I live and work in Mwanza, Tanzania, the survey actually took place in a smaller village named Kisesa, which is around 30 minutes away from Mwanza.

When I am not working on my research project, you can find me attending various training sessions held at NIMR Mwanza, which cover the basics of statistical software R Studio; enjoying lunch at one of several local restaurants near to my house (as well as the beloved NIMR Mwanza canteen); or taking Swahili lessons Monday-Friday at an International Language Training Center next door to my home.

Fortunately for me, I was sent to Mwanza with two classmates, Anisha Sehgal (NHS’19) and Eman Ali (NHS’19), who are also looking at HIV, but in relation to other topics.

Question: How have you enjoyed Georgetown and the global health major?

Coke: While not without challenges, I can confidently say that attending Georgetown was one of the best decisions I have made thus far in my life. And being a global health major is a close second. I have had the unique opportunity to incorporate two minors into my coursework here, which has allowed me to truly create the academic mixture that was right for me. I am so grateful for the structure and knowledge the major has given me, and my minors have served as a way of reinforcing the concepts I have learned in my global health courses, including applying them in new ways.

One of my favorite aspects of the major thus far has definitely been the internship opportunities. I was extremely lucky to be placed last semester with Cure Violence, an international NGO that utilizes an epidemiological approach to stop the spread of violence. My time at Cure Violence was incredibly eye-opening. Firstly, I had the opportunity to work very closely with the strategic partnerships director who so graciously allowed me to attend several meetings with her and State Department officials, World Bank staff members, and other important officials in order to learn and contribute to a major violence prevention project that was taking place in Syria. This was great work experience professionally and a great period of growth personally as I got to learn more about what was going on in the region as well. But my time at Cure Violence was also influential because it allowed me to get a better taste of all of the ways in which my global health degree can be applied and result in full-time jobs.

Question: Tell us about your time at Georgetown.

Coke: My time at Georgetown has been spent in a number of different spheres and with numerous clubs and organizations on campus. I am a member of the Blue and Gray Tour Guide Society, where I served as the former group tour coordinator. I also work for Students of Georgetown Inc. or The Corp, in the IT+M and People’s Operations Departments. This has been  great way to get hands-on experience about what it takes to run a business. I have also previously served on the NHS Minority Health Initiative Council led by Dean Brian Floyd, and I had the opportunity to travel to Honduras with the public health brigades branch of Georgetown Global Brigades.

Question: What are your plans after Georgetown?

Coke: After Georgetown, I will be moving to Dallas, where I will be working with health and biotechnology clients as a consultant.